In recent years, there has been consistent talk about the National Football League expanding the postseason picture. This week, the NFL Owner’s Meeting took place in Phoenix, Ariz., and the topic was discussed before ultimately being voted down for the moment, according to ESPN. While the possibility of playoff expansion always exists in the future, 2015 will not see any change.
“We’re going to discuss the expanded playoffs, but I don’t think there is a proposal out there to make any changes,” New York Giants owner John Mara said Sunday. “I think it’s going to happen at some point. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen next year.”
While there is much conjecture about whether the league got this decision right or wrong, it seems the obvious answer is to give the NFL applause. The league could have easily voted to accept a postseason expansion, which would have added revenue with another postseason game going on television and two more teams getting added gate receipts.
Instead, the owners decided not to change a system that has the sport more popular than any other North American sport has ever been.
In the past, the NFL has expanded the postseason numerous times. Originally, the NFL had two divisions and pitted the winners of each division against each other in the NFL Championship game. The format changed in 1967, when the conferences were split into two divisions each, giving the league four playoff teams.
Also, from 1960-69, the NFL introduced the Playoff Bowl, which was played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. This game was comprised of the two best teams which did not make the playoffs. Currently, the games are not counted with playoff statistics, although they were considered postseason games at the time.
In 1978, after realigning the league to three divisions each in the AFC and NFC, the NFL added a second wild-card team to each conference. The three division winners earned a bye week, with the two wild-card teams playing on the first weekend. In 1990, we saw the last change with a third wild-card team added for each conference, giving us the format we have today.
The NFL has never been more exciting and enjoyable. Part of that reason is because of the fight toward the end of December for the final couple of postseason seeds. Nothing beats being a fan of a team on the fringe, watching not only your game but the contests of other competing teams, rooting vigorously for the result to come out in the favor of your team.
Consider that if the playoffs had been expanded last year, we would have gotten the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles added, led by Case Keenum and Mark Sanchez, respectively. Excited?
At some point, the NFL will expand the postseason once again. Dollars will trump all, they always do. Still, at least we get a 2015 season without a watered-down playoffs.